Childhood caught in furnaces 

Childhood caught in furnaces 
Highlights

Nearly 198 minors, including 110 girls who were working at a brick kiln in Peddakondur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad, were rescued on Tuesday last by the police along with the help of an NGO.

Nearly 198 minors, including 110 girls who were working at a brick kiln in Peddakondur village on the outskirts of Hyderabad, were rescued on Tuesday last by the police along with the help of an NGO. “The children belonging to the age group of 6 to 18 were rescued. They are said to be migrants from Odisha and were working with their parents in that manufacturing company. There were no schools for them and they were living in a bad condition,” said ACP of Choutuppal, M Snehitha. The rescue operation was conducted under 'Operation Smile'.

Achyutha Rao, a child rights activist, said they had been given shelter at the workplace for now, under police protection. “A case has been booked against the owner for violation of Child Labour Act and Juvenile Justice Act, but investigation is still going on in the matter,” Snehitha said. Despite the strict laws to protect children from child labour, in 2016, 300 children were rescued from Hyderabad by an NGO called M Venkatarangaiya (MV) Foundation.

MV Foundation is an NGO based in Hyderabad working for the protection of child rights. Arvind, the NGO spokesperson, earlier said, “Apart from the health problems faced by the children, they are often beaten up by their employers. Many children suffer complications due to work in factories and construction sites. They develop skin rashes, allergies, asthma, bruises on the body, fever, bronchitis and so on.”

He had also estimated that there are around 40,000 child labourers in the domestic sector alone. In November last year, three child labourers who were in brick-kilns on the outskirts of Sangareddy for nearly a month were rescued by the Labour Department, Women and Child Welfare Department, along with police and CARPED – Centre for Action Research and People’s Development, an NGO that works for women and child development. It was also reported that the owners of the kiln were not only making children work illegally, but had violated several requirements.

The children were not given proper accommodation, there were no toilets near the kilns and they were not given education at any nearby schools.
According to reports, there are nearly 120 registered brick kilns in the district located at Jinnaram, Malkapur, Ismailkhanpet, Zaheerabad and Veldurthi. However, the workers are not provided with basic facilities like safe drinking water, proper accommodation, toilets or bathrooms.

The migrants come mostly from East, West Godavari and Srikakulam districts of Andhra Pradesh and parts of Odisha. There is discrimination even in the advance money offered to the labourers being hired. Labourers from Andhra Pradesh are paid Rs 80,000 to Rs 1 lakh which is half the amount of what is paid to those from Odisha.

Achyuta Rao said that the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (SCPCR) had rescued 3,000 child labourers in 2016 under Operation Muskaan and Operation Smile. “Most of them are migrant labourers from Bihar, Odisha, Kolkata and Chennai. After we rescue them, we give them proper care and counselling and then contact their parents and send them back to their hometown,” he added.

Achyuta Rao, who is also member of the SCPCR, said that in 2016, a total of 534 cases were filed in Hyderabad and Sangareddy districts under the violation of Child Labour Act. "Even after the strict laws, why is child labour one of the biggest problems? The government hasn’t taken necessary action against the culprits. No proper investigation has been done in the past," he rued. (www.thenewsminute.com)

By Aditi Mallik

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